I find myself at a loss for how to share my exciting and bittersweet news with you all, my EcoViva family. I am heading to graduate school in the fall and Friday, May 29th will be my last day as Communications and Outreach Manager at EcoViva.
Almost exactly three years ago, I boarded a plane to El Salvador. The first couple of days were a blur. I remember Giovanni and Nathan picking me up from the airport, and Giovanni talking my ear off the entire ride to the Lower Lempa. I remember meeting Gilma, my host mom, as we both shyly said hello. I remember Douglas trying to help orient me by explaining where everyone lived on a map, which I promptly forgot. I remember the excitement and the nerves that came from knowing I would live there for six months, which quickly turned into ten.
My time on the ground with our partners in El Salvador forever changed me. My days were full of Spanish, fishing cooperatives, youth programming, blogs, and photography. The Mangrove Association challenged me to give my all to my work. I learned firsthand how organized communities are the best way to get anything done, and worked with the best community organizers I have ever met.
Fast forward three years and I find myself not in El Salvador as the International Fellow, but seated at a desk in downtown Oakland as the Communications and Outreach Manager. Transitioning home proved challenging, but was made easier by the fact that I was still working every day with our partners in El Salvador and the EcoViva team. The Youth Program leaders continually inspire me, from when I worked alongside them everyday to telling their story through the Viva Fund. My work with them, in El Salvador and in Oakland, helps keeps me grounded.
The last three years have been full of joy, hard-won struggles, challenges, disappointments, trust and confidence in my colleagues and myself, and learning at every step of the way. They have been full of inspiring people on the ground, in the office, and in the wider EcoViva community.
As I transition out this week, I feel confident knowing that Jeanne Muller—former EcoViva intern and International Programs Associate— is taking my place as Communications Manager. Jeanne comes to the position with considerable knowledge about EcoViva and the Mangrove Association from her time in the Oakland office and on the ground in El Salvador, and an efficiency and drive that I admire. We are so lucky to have her on our team.
Jeanne and I have both worked closely with the Youth Program in El Salvador, so it feels right to be coordinating this year’s Viva Fund campaign together. As I transition, I’m donating to the Viva Fund to support the youth leaders in El Salvador, who Jeanne and I have learned a lot from. Join me in supporting the next generation of leaders in El Salvador.
As I get ready to leave the office tomorrow, I will continue to stay connected to the people and the work, because a social movement this powerful and relationships this strong can’t be simply left behind. They stay with you, wherever you go. As they say in El Salvador this is not adios, but rather hasta luego.